The Islamist violence against the West is the result of the sinking of the Salam 98, not the cartoon about Mohammed. The cartoon is a flashpoint for Moslem anger because the Moslems are furious that their legitimate opinions are not getting covered in the western media. The cartoon of Mohammed, which was published four months ago, did not become an issue until after the Salam 98 sinking last week. Why? After the cartoon was originally published, a group of ambassadors from Muslim countries sought a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to raise their concerns over the pictures regarded as blasphemous by Muslims. However, the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen refused to meet with them. This made the Muslims angry. Then came the sinking of the Salam 98.
What is the Salam 98? The name of the ship that sank in the Red Sea last week in which more than 900 people are feared to have lost their lives. We all remember the name of the ship Estonia which sank in the Baltic Sea in 1994 with a loss of 852 lives; and the name Herald of Free Enterprise which sank in 1987, just off the coast of Belgium, with the loss of 193 lives. But the name Salam 98, which sank last week, is barely known.
Oh, it's just another third world ferry disaster. But the Salam 98 is not just another ferry disaster. The larger question is, "Why do people who want to go from Saudi Arabia to neighboring Egypt have to take a boat across the Red Sea instead of driving overland?" The answer is, "Israel."
Israel occupies what used to be the crossroads of Asia and Africa. It is impossible to move overland from anywhere in Africa to anywhere in Asia, and vice-versa, without going through what is now Israel. In other words, 10 million Jews are claiming ownership of real estate which is screwing up the lives of half the world's people.
In 2006, there should be highways criss-crossing the Middle East and the entire world. There needs to be an inter-continental highway system, like the Interstate Highways in the U.S., the Autobahns in Germany, etc. The distance from Cairo, Egypt to Amman, Jordan is 300 miles, the same as from Philadelphia to Boston. The drive should take 5 or 6 hours. Instead, because Israel sits astride the crossroads of two continents, Arabs have to drive 300 miles to a 125 mile ferry and then another 250 miles to Cairo. A trip that should take half a day, takes two or three, because of purely political considerations. And as the sinking of Salam 98 shows, it is a dangerous trip. Is it any wonder that most of the Moslem world wants to "wipe Israel off the map?"
Now, one of those ferries sinks, killing almost 1,000 people. Does that disaster get the coverage of the 13 trapped miners in West Virginia, or the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Hell no! No one even knows the name of the ship. But newspapers in the west are filled with cartoons of Mohammed, with his turban in the shape of a bomb. That's why the Moslems are fighting mad.
The Arabs have many legitimate grievances against Israel and the West. It is these grievances that the Western leadership and media are determined to deal with by keeping information favorable to the Arabs out of the media and by physical and military force on the ground. Consequently, the world is sliding toward a war between the west and Islam, probably by spring, that Ehud Olmert, the acting Israeli Prime Minister and George Bush, the acting American President, want to come. (Bush will try to postpone it until after the mid-term elections.)
The Moslems are rioting, just as the blacks in the United States did in the 1960's, because they know the justice of their cause and are sophisticated enough to see and know that their point of view is not being heard.
The Arabs see, at least from American and European movies, how the rest of the world lives. They see Americans jump into their cars and drive all over the place. Arabs would like to live that way, too. Westerners live well because they have access to Arab oil. Now the Arabs must be wondering why Americans can use their oil to drive from Philadelphia to Boston, but the Arabs themselves can't drive from Amman to Cairo.
Another reason for their anger is the Western definition of "democracy." The United States and Israel didn't like the outcome of the Palestinian elections, so they have decided to ignore it, just as Bush decided to ignore the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, because he didn't like the outcome. This is the "democracy" Americans and Iraqis are dying to see spread around the world.
Adding insult to injury is the use of the Army. Some of the survivors of Salam98 were in the water for 24 hours while helicopters circled overhead. The Egyptian military, which was used by Hosni Mubarek, the Dictator of Egypt, to surround polling places and physically prevent people from voting in the second round of the Egyptian legislative elections so the Moslem Brotherhood would not gain too many seats, was incapable of mounting a rescue operation for the survivors of Salam 98. The United States troops stationed just a few dozen miles away in Sinai, the vaunted Israeli military, so adept at killing Palestinian children on the West Bank and Gaza, where was their helping hand for the people of a country that has a peace treaty with Israel. And Mubarek had the gall to pressure Hamas to become "moderate."
The ineptitude of the Egyptian rescue efforts in the wake of the Salam 98 sinking, contrasted with the corrupt Egyptian election, the well overworn dictatorship of Hosni Mubarek, and the pressure on Hamas was enough to turn the stomach of anyone who cares about justice and freedom.
The war in Iraq, the American and Israeli policies in the Middle East, the double standard on nuclear arms where Israel is allowed to keep the sixth biggest cache of atomic weapons in the world while Iran is not allowed to even have its own domestic nuclear power industry, is colonialism, pure and simple. Unless there is a change, war is coming. And in this age of mass communications, the internet and the global village and economy; all the Moslems all over the world will enlist in this fight.
Already Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is accusing Syria and Iran of fomenting the violence, the same arguments the police made against the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's. It's like the Moslems are too stupid to riot on their own, they need "outside agitators" who, by coincidence, happen to be Israel's (and by extension America's) number one enemies in the Middle East.
Unless Israel finds a way to let people drive from Amman to Cairo, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, war is inevitable. Building a wall all the way around the perimeter of the country is moving in the wrong direction. This is why Israel does not want a Palestinian state with a corridor connecting the West Bank and Gaza. A contiguous Palestinian state would allow the Arabs to forget about Israel for good. They would build the roads that would let Africa and Asia travel by car.
A Plan For Peace In the Middle East
Water and infrastructure are the two things needed for peace in the Middle East. In order to create land for the dispossessed Palestinians and the natural population growth of both the Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East, more water is necessary. Abundant water is necessary regardless of any political solution and will, in fact, facilitate such a solution.
So, rather than spend money on Armies, bombs, guns, separation walls and soldiers; a crash program to find viable water desalination processes for the long term, and water pipelines from water surplus areas of the world to water deficit areas would make a real, lasting, peace on earth far more of a possibility than the current policy of arming the developed world into bankruptcy for the financial benefit of a few of Bush's friends at the top.
Another reason the Moslems are rioting is that scum bag dictators like the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia are using their vast oil wealth to support the American economy and war effort in Iraq, rather than build the infrastructure, like roads bridges and tunnels between Saudi Arabia and Sinai, that would enable people to drive from Amman to Cairo without having to take dangerous, lengthy ferries.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf