We are in a world war and yet we do not notice it.
Over the past few weeks reports have abounded about the widening berth of the forces of global jihad. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that al-Qaida linked groups are operating in Africa from the Western Sahara to the Horn of Africa. The jihadis in countries like Niger, Chad and Mali are being financed, trained and indoctrinated by religious authorities from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
The recent elections in Indonesia ended with neither major party receiving much more than one fifth of the popular vote. In Indonesia's parliamentary system this means that the small Islamic parties will be able to exert great influence over the new government which will need to bring them into the governing coalition to rule.
In Nigeria this week Muslim mobs brandishing machetes butchered some thirty Christians in the streets of the city of Kano. The panicked Christians ran for shelter in police stations as they watched their co-religionists butchered and set aflame before their eyes.
The problems in Nigeria began in 1999 after elections brought an end to military rule in the oil rich country. Today 11 of Nigeria's 36 states are governed by Sharia law. Rights of women and non-Muslims in these areas have been summarily destroyed. Nigeria's turn to jihad has been spurred on by foreign Arabs. Palestinians, Saudis, Syrians and Sudanese have all been acting as advisers to the mullahs in Nigeria and have been actively funding and training the Muslim militias that have killed thousands of Christians there over the past few years.
In the Philippines, President Gloria Arroyo has given de facto autonomy over large swathes of the country to an al-Qaida linked group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front operating in the southern parts of the archipelago dominated by the country's Muslim minority. The MILF too is supported by the Saudis and other Arab states with money, arms and jihad indoctrination.
Both western intelligence agencies and casual observers are casting worried glances at Europe itself. With Western Europe's large and increasingly extremist Muslim minorities demanding cultural autonomy while preaching and funding and training men for jihad, many EU member states are looking more and more like Islamic countries everyday.
All of this should be taken into account when we look at the bloody toll of the Palestinian offensive in Gaza and when we observe the American confusion in Iraq today. It should be taken into account because we must realize that our enemies are engaged in a world war against the non-Muslim world. When we consider our daily battles on our limited terrain we must not allow our perceptions to be distorted by that directly before us.
Yet undermine our perceptive powers we have. Although the Palestinians, like their Iranian and Hizbullah overlords have consistently stated that their aim is to destroy Israel in stages, we Israelis refuse to see the overall picture of their strategy. They execute Tali Hatuel and her four daughters on the day of the Likud poll and we fail to understand the message. It is not, "Get out of Gaza, or else." It is, "Regardless of what you desire, we will push you out of Gaza as we pushed you out of Lebanon and as we will push you out of the rest of Palestine that you refer to as Israel."
But we don't see it that way. Our press, like our beleaguered and vain politicians, pushes a different story. In their story, there is no enemy, only Israel. There is no jihad, only settlers provocatively daring to live in their homes and soldiers carrying too much explosive material in their armored personnel carriers and tanks. It is the settlers who "endanger" their children and the soldiers who place too much TNT in their APCs who are responsible for their deaths.
We do not see news analyses of Palestinian societal derangement that manifests itself in cannibalism. We do not see debates of what an Israeli defeat in Gaza means to a society bred from the cradle to the grave on global jihad and its requisite genocide of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and beyond.
Indeed, we see no discussion of Gaza as part of a larger whole – whether that whole be the entire Land of Israel or the entire non-Muslim world. Because we limit our gaze with super telephoto lenses to see only that immediately before us, our picture of the war being waged against us is taken up almost entirely by ourselves with the enemy barely visible at the outer edges of the frame.
Rather than learning from our mistakes, over the past month or so we have seen our American allies repeat them in Iraq. There, the US has limited its gaze to itself. Can the US forces enter into sacred Shiite towns or not? Can US forces engage in house to house battles, risking civilian casualties in Fallujah or not? Can the US empower its allies and weaken its enemies in Iraq without being perceived (by itself) as imperialistic? Can the US continue its occupation of Iraq and campaign to bring freedom to this malformed Arab state when a handful of its soldiers besmirch the honor of their uniforms by abusing Iraqi enemy prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison?
The questions here are not turned to the enemy that transforms sacred cities into armed camps and hides behind civilians, rendering them either fellow terrorists or hostages. The question, why would the US send 135,000 US troops to liberate Iraq only to have them turn it over to the same UN supported Ba'athist forces they were brought to Iraq to defeat is resoundingly ignored.
The confused Bush administration is not asked why the president should seek the approval of the Arab world for America's actions or forgiveness for its failings. It is not asked this even though, as the American scholar Fuad Ajami pointed out this week in The Wall Street Journal, the Arabs preferred Saddam's butchers to the American liberators and prefer to see Iraq revert to pan-Arab fascism and tyranny to its emerging as a secular democracy.
Indeed in the recent weeks of American Israeli-style navel gazing on Iraq, we see little questioning of what US retreats in Fallujah and hesitancy in Najaf do to the forces of jihad throughout the world. There is little note paid to the fact that in the attack on foreign workers in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia and the beginning of the month, the body of one of the American victims was tied to the terrorists' vehicle and dragged through the streets of the city as the terrorists invoked the lynching of US contractors in Fallujah in late March to the crowd that formed around them.
In the US tendency towards Israeli style self-obsession, we see them like us, buying into the psychological warfare of the enemy aimed at forcing their retreat. So it is that in the barbaric butchering of American businessman Nick Berg, the American press reports as fact the terrorists' contention that Berg's beheading was retribution for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
Of course this is a lie. Daniel Pearl was beheaded before the US invaded Iraq. The workers in Yanbu were murdered a year after the US pulled its military forces out of Saudi Arabia. The US contractors were lynched before the Marines went into Fallujah.
When we pay attention to our enemies and see the scope of their ambitions and depth of their hatred we must come to a revolutionary conclusion. We, Israelis, Americans, and indeed all non-fascistic Muslims constitute the frontline in the war wherever we are. It was not US military deployment in Saudi Arabia that precipitated the September 11 attacks anymore than it was the Israeli presence in Lebanon or in Gaza or Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem that precipitated the Palestinian-led jihad against Israel. It is our existence that provokes our enemy.
Our enemies, the forces of global jihad, be they Palestinian or Jordanian, Saudi, Egyptian, Syrian, L
ebanese, Iranian or Iraqi use all the means at their disposal to wage their war against us. From their television and radio stations and newspapers they incite for our destruction and feed us fictions of our own culpability to both strengthen their forces' will to fight us and to weaken our will to defend ourselves.
In the UN, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and on countless other international stages they seek to criminalize us for our crime of defending our existence. In this they find accomplices among our own self-absorbed elites who are only too happy to blame the war being waged against us on ourselves.
When we limit our gaze to ourselves not only do we fail to take notice of the nature of the war, we craft national policies that harm both ourselves and our allies. In Israel, our self-obsession has brought about plan after plan all of which have weakened us and our allies in the global struggle.
From the Oslo initiative to the retreat from Lebanon to Sharon's pullout plan from Gaza and parts of Samaria we have hurt ourselves and our allies.
We have hurt ourselves by weakening our ability to recognize our enemies as such seeing them rather as erstwhile peace partners. We have hurt ourselves by discrediting our own right to live unmolested as large swathes of our elites have preferred our enemies the Palestinians to our own citizens in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
In behaving as though the Palestinian branch of the global jihad is engaging in a war over a few kilometers in Gaza, Judea and Samaria rather than playing a central role in the global jihad against non-Muslims, we are making it harder for our allies, first and foremost the Americans, to see the true nature of the war they too are fighting. If it is only Israeli settlers who are preventing peace by living in mobile homes in Judea and Samaria then perhaps it is only America in its "arrogance" that is preventing the jihadis from coming to a meeting of the minds with the West.
As the jihad spreads throughout the world, we must stop finally with our self-destructive self-absorption. The butchers in Zeitoun who kicked the remains of our soldiers like footballs on Tuesday, like the butchers in Baghdad, Karachi, Riyadh and beyond who kill with barbaric ecstasy and primordial hatred do so not because of anything we have done. They do so because they are barbarians. And if we do not wish to be destroyed, we must do everything to destroy them and nothing to give them hope for victory against us.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.