I vividly remember twenty years ago when I watched the 9/11 terrorist attacks live on TV. My then teenager daughter and I were leafing through a newly released colorful book when she suddenly stirred from the pages and gazed at the TV screen and told me, “Look what is happening!” I initially said, “No, it’s a movie,” but soon realized that it was real. America was under siege and the world would enter a new era of terrorist threats on a large scale.
I immediately felt we had witnessed just the beginning of a well-oiled terrorist machine, a meticulously coordinated action perpetrated by individuals willing to die for an ideal, and nothing could stop them.
The series of flights hijacked as weapons against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the plane crash in Pennsylvania claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people. Unfortunately, I do not see that after two decades of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil the world has truly changed.
The world does not feel this blow as a sign of the need for connection. On the contrary, each nation acts in a selfishly private way. Countries spend billions trying to negotiate with or erase terrorist organizations, but achieve nothing because they do not do it as a coordinated effort. Conversely, the terrorists are actually in touch with each other, have substantial power, money, and weapons, efficient intelligence and very good knowledge of what to do, how to operate and when. That is why our efforts to erase terrorism have proved unsuccessful.
Islamic fundamentalists have a radical and deeply rooted ideology so nothing breaks them. Nowadays, terrorism is a profession. A terrorist can sit in power, lead a country, and be accepted and respected in international organizations such as the United Nations as we have seen in previous General Assemblies with the late Yasser Arafat and others.
Since humanity has not learned anything, we can expect more and larger attacks anywhere in the world. We are like children who refuse to admit our flaws to form a united force to face a common enemy.
For now the terrorists are dormant, waiting for an opportunity to cause harm, and they reinforce themselves while governments from both ends of the political spectrum deliberate on how to counter the threats. The next event could easily unfold as an atomic explosion in a sensitive place in the world. The Suez Canal in Egypt and other emblematic places could be potential targets. Today the world is round and if a place is blown up it ripples strongly across the globe.
Terrorist organizations have a foundation, their doctrine believes in a supreme power that should rule the world; that is a strong driving force to perform radical acts against those who think differently. On the other hand, the business of terrorism is a lucrative one. Do suicide terrorists in Gaza need to work? Of course not. Together with their families they receive generous financial assistance from wealthy regimes.
The 9/11 twentieth anniversary also coincides with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. As a result of such a lengthy and expensive operation and even after Osama Bin Laden has gone, the world is still not a safer place. On the contrary. Borders and security measures were strengthened; inquiries about each and every person have intensified, but no more than that. Besides the actions to prove the U.S., Russia and allies’ pride to combat terrorism in the world, I do not see anything seriously done to eliminate this plague.
The purpose of Islamic fundamentalism is simple. They want to raise the flag of Islam above the whole earth. For the time being there are conflicts between their different factions which have existed for hundreds or thousand years, but I think these divisions will cease in the future. They will eventually reach agreement and we will see all these organizations coalesce under one umbrella as one organization with the intention for all other countries to bend to its will.
That is their Torah, their religion, the ideal they want to live by and die for. They are fundamentalists, not terrorists, to those who look at their unshakable goal in life. Thus, it is a lost case for the West to start explaining to them what is needed and their version of the principles the world needs to be built upon. No one in the world can change their beliefs. So, under such circumstances, the U.S. and the West will end before extremist groups such as the Taliban and others with a strong, ancient and solid foundation, who are willing to die for their cause will vanish, whereas America is tangled up in the name of democracy.
Like it or not, a military solution will be only a palliative action to combat terror. A more comprehensive approach should include a solution at a higher level than our earthly passing calculations.
Unity is the one ingredient that the world needs, but it has no idea how to achieve it. The role of the people of Israel is to become an example of connection to pave the way for the rest of the world. If we want peace and coexistence this is the way to go.
An even more ancient, strong, solid foundation must be tapped into, the foundation of the Israeli nation, Abraham the Patriarch’s method of connection.
As foremost Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote, the Israeli nation was constructed as a gateway [for] the whole of humanity the world over, until they develop to such an extent that they can grasp the pleasantness and tranquility in love of others. Then the picture of reality will be pleasant and safe.
An American flag and red rose stand in the names of those lost at the edge of the south reflecting pool of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in lower Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., September 8, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar