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The Al-Qaeda/Israel Riddle | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Why hasn’t Al-Qaeda launched a single operation against Israel despite all the pain and sympathy that Osama Bin Laden and his right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri boastfully harp on about when it comes to usurped, occupied Palestine?

Since the emergence of the Al-Qaeda Organization, the alliance of Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri in the Hindu Kush Mountains, and the signing of the Jihad declaration against the Jews and their allies in 1998, Al-Qaeda has strived against everyone except the Zionists. What is the secret behind Al-Qaeda’s absence from the jihad battlefield in Palestine? Why hasn’t Al-Qaeda launched a single operation that targets Israel from within or even its interests abroad?

This is not an incitement for Al-Qaeda to add fuel to the fire in the region and the world. However, how can he who has not launched a single operation in Israel, issue fatwas against the real Palestinian militants, who used all means, including war and negotiations to restore their land, accusing them of being agents and traitors. As for the recipient, how can he accept and allow those who offered nothing for Palestine to practice this moral authority and issue fatwas of betrayal? In the last episode of the series of Al-Qaeda audio recordings on Al-Jazeera satellite channel, Al-Zawahiri accused the Arab countries that took part in last year’s Annapolis conference of being agents and of selling out Palestine.

The problem does not lie with Al-Zawahiri or in the Al-Qaeda discourse; it is in the state of verbal anarchy that is sweeping the Arab world. This anarchy does not enable anyone to distinguish between the language of Al-Qaeda and the language of the mass media. How can a person, a certain body, or a media institution be against Al-Qaeda and at the same time share with it the same vocabulary and language?

When it comes to rational media, the media vehicle can air a tape of Al-Zawahiri or anyone else, but it has to justify the value of this news and discuss what it disseminates seriously and firmly. For instance, it is unacceptable for a correspondent in Beirut working for an Arab channel which claims credibility, superiority, and so forth, to say, while presenting news on François al-Hajj, chief of operations for the Lebanese Army, that ” the operation was carried out by a BMW car that was bought 48 hours ago.”… Bought? Who bought it and who sold it? Is there not a system for registering cars in Lebanon when buying or selling them? This is the job of serious journalism, but, when the entire report is in the passive voice context then this is ignorance not information.

Most of the various Arab television stations follow the same pattern when talking about Al-Qaeda. Would it not have been appropriate for these channels while broadcasting the tape of Al-Zawahiri, who describes countries and governments as treacherous and accuses them of selling Palestine, to present for the viewer, out of professionalism and balance, Al-Qaeda’s record of jihad for the sake of Palestine, or to present something about Al-Zawahiri’s biography and to what extent he is linked to Palestine? Did what Al-Zawahiri say represent a change in his character since joining Al-Qaeda, or was this a genuine part of his intellectual make up since he was a member of the Egyptian jihad organization? However, what is odder is that the commentators and analysts hosted by these channels to comment on these audio tapes of Al-Qaeda speak the same language as Al-Zawahiri.

They use his vocabulary and descriptions and go into details with an apparent Zawahirian spirit. One only needs to watch a commercial for one of these Arab channels to discover that most of these promotional clips comprise shouting matches taken from programs of bickering. These programs curse the current Arab regimes, describe the Arab leaders and presidents as treacherous and having destroyed everything, and call for rebellion, jihad, and liberating countries and peoples. The promotions adopt Al-Qaeda’s vocabulary and language as if the message behind them is that we all are traitors if we do not adopt Al-Qaeda’s rhetoric. If we really want peace and stability for this troubled region of the world, it would be childish and political adolescence to insert Al-Qaeda’s rhetoric into serious discussions about peace and war issues. What is the meaning behind promoting Al-Zawahiri’s tapes in such circumstances? Searching for peace needs the support of the masses even under the rule of the most tyrannical dictatorships.

Al-Zawahiri’s rhetoric and those who adopt it only serve to incite the anti-peace faction and embarrass those who gamble their political future for the sake of stability. At present, there is Arab unanimity on an Arab initiative for the sake of a historic solution; and, bringing Al-Zawahri’s talk of betrayal to the surface by an Arab media vehicle without analyzing this speech is immature and should be considered playing with fire.

Trying to mix Al-Qaeda’s rhetoric with that of satellite television news analysts, anchors, and program presenters is a deliberate action aimed at making Al-Qaeda and its rhetoric part of the general discourse. This is deception, not information.

Isn’t it time to shoulder responsibility? Isn’t it time for us to tell our children who is the role model, is it Al-Sadat or those who killed him? Who is the hero? Is it really Osama Bin Laden or other Arab men who are categorized as state builders? Most probably when we say that these Arab media do not shoulder their responsibilities, those who seek false heroism reiterate that we unjustly lay the blame on the media and drown in self-rebuke, as if glorifying and holding oneself in high esteem means to be away from serious criticism when it comes to fundamental and important matters.

It is time for Arab citizens to know that Al-Qaeda is an extremist, terrorist group. Until today, Al-Qaeda and Al-Zawahiri did not offer Palestine anything except those political pornographic tapes that are presented on TV screens — a cheap struggle for which Al-Qaeda does not pay anything. The task of the Arab media should be to expose this falsehood, not promote it. The United States, through the Voice of America, Radio Sawa, and Al-Hurrah channel, promotes its policies in the Arab world.

The same thing applies to Britain, which promotes its policies through different channels targeting Eastern Europe in the past and the Arab world and Iran at present. If our Arab state-owned stations are a promotion for the ruling regimes, then have the independent Arab media become the ones that promote Al-Qaeda’s policies? I have no doubt that the recipient of our satellite news media realizes, through the tone of voice and facial expression, that we are required to support Al-Qaeda because it confronts the Americans and Israelis. That is why we should forgive Al-Zawahiri and his ilk for all that they have done.

However, some essential questions remain unanswered. Does the killing of innocent people in Algiers constitute confrontation with the Americans and Israelis? Does the slaughtering of Iraqis in Iraq constitute confrontation with the Americans? Why didn’t Al-Qaeda confront the Americans in Afghanistan? And, the most important question is why didn’t Al-Qaeda – since its establishment and until this moment – carry out one single operation against Israel?

This is the mystery of mysteries and whoever answers this question will have our undying gratitude.