Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, I expected there would soon be consensus across ideological, national, and other lines that terrorism is wrong — that no political goal or grievance justifies intentionally murdering innocent men, women, and children. I was wrong.
Last week, Pew released the results of a poll that found that Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, is viewed favorably by 76 percent of the population of Pakistan, ostensibly one of America’s closest allies among nations self-identifying as Islamic. Iran also is viewed favorably by 39 percent of Tunisians, generally regarded as among the most moderate of Arabs. In Egypt, 19 percent — a not insignificant minority — have a favorable view of al-Qaeda.
In America and Europe, fewer people smile on terrorists but many are determinedly nonjudgmental. Recall Reuters’ global head of news, Stephen Jukes, just after 9/11, saying that in the view of his news organization, “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Canadian author George Jonas, with his customary verbal precision, called that “an adolescent sophistry.”
Now consider the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), created under the leadership of the Obama administration to “provide a unique platform for senior counterterrorism policymakers and experts from around the world to work together to identify urgent needs, devise solutions and mobilize resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges.” Twenty-nine countries have been admitted, but Israel, arguably targeted by more terrorists than any other nation, has been excluded. In remarks to a meeting of the GCTF in Madrid last week, Under Secretary of State Maria Otero failed even to include Israel in a list of victims of terrorism. Asked about this conspicuous omission, a State Department spokesman replied: “I don’t have the details of the undersecretary’s speech.” Your tax dollars at work.
Also in recent days: A resolution introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics on July 27, to observe a moment of silence in honor of the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists 40 years ago in Munich received unanimous Senate support. But the members of the IOC adamantly refuse. Is that because they are not sure whether those who slaughtered the Olympians were terrorists? Or is it because they think it prudent not to offend any terrorists who may be summering in London? Could the fact that the victims were Israelis — or Jews — play a role?