Yalla Peace: Osama bin Laden’s message

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Yalla Peace: Osama bin Laden’s message
By RAY HANANIA
09/06/2011 Jerusalem Post/Creators Syndicate — The true goal of the Sept. 11 attacks was to turn people away from the belief that peace is possible. As much as America and the West hate to admit it, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 achieved everything that Osama Bin Laden could have hoped for and more.

The attacks not only drew the US into Afghanistan – where it’s still bogged down almost 10 years later with no end in sight – most importantly, they demonstrated the vulnerability of the most powerful nation in the world.

America was and still is vulnerable, despite all the patriotic rhetoric and grandiose speeches from opportunistic politicians to the contrary. We proved that when we compromised our own Constitution and used torture and civil rights violations to fight back.

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The Middle East, the very region that spawned the attacks, was even more powerfully affected. For the Palestinians and Israelis, the damage done on 9/11, and in the 10 years since, is greater than they may realize.

Palestinian and Israeli extremists have always turned to terrorism and violence as a means of derailing the peace process initiated by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. I was there that beautiful September day in 1993 – I was inspired to believe in peace, and hoped for an end to the conflict that has brought tragedy to both sides for over six decades.

From the day that agreement was signed, extremists were determined to destroy it – and they did. In fact, the year before Sept. 11, 2001, Palestinians and Israelis were engaged in what was then their most vicious exchange. Ariel Sharon pushed peace to the side. His provocation on the Haram al ash Sharif (Temple Mount) did what it was intended to: destroy the peace process in a way suicide bombings never could.

I remember that year in 2000 as being the most terrible time, especially as the previous year had been one of the most hopeful Palestinians and Israelis ever experienced. There had been real belief peace would prevail over extremism.

But extremists on both sides, from Hamas to settler champions, did everything they could to block the peace process. Hamas used suicide bombings and settler champions used assassination. Rabin was murdered less than three years after signing the peace accord. Had he lived, the peace process would have continued, and we likely would have seen Israeli fanaticism reach deeper and deeper into the heart of terrorism to stop peace.

When violence did break out after Sharon’s action, I never thought we would see peace again. But it was Sept. 11 that sealed the fate of Palestinians and Israelis, condemning them to a vicious cycle of hatred, violence and blame.

Bin Laden didn’t just want to kill Americans on Sept. 11. His primary goal was to embolden extremists and rally them to his cause.

Ten years after Sept. 11, many claim we are defeating extremism and terrorism, but that is far from true. I would argue that Sept. 11 only proved that the extremism we face is far more powerful than we are willing to admit.

With every believer in peace that turns away from that goal, the extremists gain another victory. Because that is the true goal of the Sept. 11 attacks: to turn people away from the belief that peace is possible.

The extremists know that they are winning. Extremism feeds upon the disbelievers in peace. The extremists defeat the moderates because their acts of violence and terrorism cause moderates to lose faith and turn to hatred.

What we are seeing today is the weakening of the moderates and those who have hope for peace. We are seeing what Bin Laden and the extremists always hoped for. Continued conflict.

Sept. 11 didn’t show that the extremists will lose by their acts of violence. It proved that their violence can bring them exactly what they hope for.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

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