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Jewish World Review
Sept. 9, 2004
/ 23 Elul, 5764
Muslim terrorists are victims: The view from NYTimes Land
Edward I. Koch
The New York Times editorial of September 4, which followed the slaughter of hundreds of boys, girls and many other innocents by Chechen terrorists and their Arab confederates, was contemptible. The Times tried to shift blame for the atrocities to the Soviet Union under Stalin more than 60 years ago. The Times stated, "History is no excuse for today's terrorists to now treat other innocents as inhumanly as Stalin treated the earlier generation of Chechens…The quarrel turned even more venomous after Stalin deported the entire Chechen population at gunpoint to Central Asia in 1944: Hundreds of thousands of deportees died of cold and hunger. Those who tried to stay behind were executed."
| The bodies of Russian children, victims of Muslim terror, awaiting burial
Why did The Times omit any mention of the war time treason of the Chechen people one of 120 or more ethnic groups making up the then Soviet Union? The Chechens allied themselves with the Nazi armies that had invaded Russia in 1941 and were on the verge of overrunning the entire Soviet Union. Had the Soviets been defeated, the allies, England and the United States, would likely have been defeated as well and, at the very least, been required to sue for peace with the Nazis.
Now, The Times warns Russia, "President Putin has never been strong on diplomatic nuance. But unless he now opens a serious negotiating channel with legitimate Chechen leaders outside the Moscow-backed puppet government, things can only get worse. And if they do, Russia will not only be the nation that pays the price."
The Times' suggestion that Russia submit in some manner to the Chechens' demand for separation, allowing them perhaps to create their own independent state, is wrongheaded. Yielding to terror is the worst response possible as it will only embolden the terrorists. Spain and the Philippines both bowed to the demands of the Iraqi terrorists the former in removing its military force from Iraq and the latter by removing its civilian personnel from Iraq. Is there any doubt both countries are now vulnerable to increased terrorist demands? Spain, which is part of NATO, was once under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate. It can expect ever-spiraling demands from terrorists that it refuse to fulfill its NATO obligations and ultimately that it submit to Islamic rule. The terrorists know that if the threats are followed by acts of terror and people are slaughtered, as they were in Madrid, the Spanish and Philippine governments will cave.
The Times editorial denounces the Russians for responding to Chechen efforts to secede, "mainly with force and intransigence." In the days of the Civil War and the South's efforts to secede from the Union, did The Times propose to President Lincoln that he "reach for compromise" and let the South go? Lincoln's refusal to allow the secession, despite the knowledge that it would result in a tragic civil war, was nevertheless the right thing to do. Will Putin follow in Lincoln's footsteps? I hope so.
Faced with civil insurrection, Arab regimes historically have responded with unimaginable savagery. In Syria, 25,000 men, women and children living in Hama were killed and the city literally razed to the ground. In Halabja, 5,000 Iraqi Kurds, mostly women and children, were killed by poison gas on what is now known as Bloody Friday. In Jordan under King Hussein, up to 25,000 men, women and children belonging to the PLO were hunted down and killed in "Black September" in 1970.
Civilized countries cannot and should not respond to insurrection and terrorism with acts of indiscriminate brutality. Their response should be strong but focused.
How will the Russians respond to the terrorist onslaught? From Putin's recent speech it appears to be payback time. Putin said Russia will respond with new measures to be "implemented in full accordance with the constitution." He told his people:
"We failed to recognize the complexity and danger of the processes going on in our own country and the world as a whole. At any rate, we failed to react to them adequately. We demonstrated weakness, and the weak are beaten. Some want to tear off a big chunk of our country. Others help them to do it. … This is an attack on all of us…Terrorists think that they are stronger, that they will be able to intimidate us, to paralyze our will, to erode our society. It seems that we have a choice: to resist or to cave in and agree with their claims; to give up and allow them to destroy and to take Russia apart, in hope that eventually they would leave us alone. … We are dealing with the direct intervention of international terror against Russia with total and full scale war…"
Putin is right. What is required is nothing short of a full-scale war against international terrorism. As Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the 9-11 commission stated before the Russian catastrophe, "They want to kill us." With the declaration of the Bush Doctrine, "We will go after the terrorists and the countries that harbor them," our President has set the standard for world leaders.
Some in the Arab world recognize that the deaths of so many Russian children have created "an international backlash against Islam and its followers." In Egypt, reports Newsday, "one newspaper headline here read, 'The painful truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims."
Nevertheless, true to form, others in the Arab world are seeking to cover up their torturing and killing of 340 Russians, mostly children, by blaming the Jews. The AP reports, "Ali Abdullah, a Bahraini religious scholar who follows the ultraconservative Salafi stream of Islam, condemned the school attack as 'un-Islamic' but insisted Muslims weren't behind it. 'I have no doubt in my mind that this is the work of the Israelis who want to tarnish the image of Muslims and are working alongside Russians who have their own agenda against the Muslims in Chechnya,' said Abdullah."
Columnist Ghassan Makhal wrote in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq: "It is likely that the downing of the planes in Moscow [sic] and the operation against the school in Beslan were part of the struggle that the Putin government is waging against the [Russian] mafia, which has ties to Israel. Therefore it is possible that the Russian Foreign Minister is in Israel in order to negotiate and reach an agreement, or at least to obtain a promise from Sharon that he will mediate [between the government] and this mafia."
The blaming of the Jews for Islamic acts of savagery recalls the allegations following 9-11 when anti-Semites in this country, in the Arab world and elsewhere, including Leroy Jones, a.k.a. Amiri Baraka, then poet laureate of New Jersey, claimed it was the Israelis who destroyed the World Trade Center killing near 3,000 people. Baraka is still honored in many circles in this country. America's poet laureate Robert Pinsky opposed stripping Baraka of his title as a state poet laureate.
The tragic events in Russia should be another wake-up call to the civilized world. As we grieve with the Russian people, we should remember that we are allies in a common war against international terrorism.
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JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Sunday from 9-10 am . Comment by clicking here.
© 2004, Edward I. Koch