In September, 2001 former-president Bush (I love saying that) stood before Congress and the American public and provided his explanation for why we were attacked:
Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.The truth makes far more sense: they hate us because our foreign policy has, for years, killed them in cold blood. The Christian Science Monitor from 9/27/01:
But from Jakarta to Cairo, Muslims and Arabs say that on reflection, they are not surprised by it. And they do not share Mr. Bush's view that the perpetrators did what they did because "they hate our freedoms."
Rather, they say, a mood of resentment toward America and its behavior around the world has become so commonplace in their countries that it was bound to breed hostility, and even hatred.
And the buttons that Mr. bin Laden pushes in his statements and interviews - the injustice done to the Palestinians, the cruelty of continued sanctions against Iraq, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, the repressive and corrupt nature of US-backed Gulf governments - win a good deal of popular sympathy.
Specifically in regard to Israel:
From one end of the region to the other, the perception is that Israel can get away with murder - literally - and that Washington will turn a blind eye. Clearly, the US and Israel have compelling reasons for their actions. But little that US diplomats have done in recent years to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians has persuaded Arabs that the US is a fair-minded and equitable judge of Middle Eastern affairs.
Over the past year, Arab TV stations have broadcast countless pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinian youths, Israeli tanks plowing into Palestinian homes, Israeli helicopters rocketing Palestinian streets. And they know that the US sends more than $3 billion a year in military and economic aid to Israel.
"You see this every day, and what do you feel?" asks Rafiq Hariri, the portly prime minister of Lebanon, who is not an excitable man. "It hurts me a lot. But for hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, it drives them crazy. They feel humiliated."
It appears that we have not learned our lesson. Fast-forward to 2009, we see new threats from Al-Qaeda based on our unquestioning support for Israel:
A prominent Al-Qaeda figure, Abu Yahya al-Libi, on Thursday urged Islamist militants to launch attacks in the West, naming the United States and Britain, to avenge Israel's onslaught on Gaza.
"Sacrifice what you can to deliver to the capitals of the infidel West, the criminal America, and the agent tyrants a taste of what they deliver to our brothers and our oppressed brothers and people in Palestine," Libi said in a videotape posted on the Internet, according a translation by SITE monitoring group.
Our hypocritical and unwavering support for Israel is endangering us again. Where do you think Israel got all those advanced munitions, used in an illegal manner? Why from your tax dollars, of course!
The U.S. weapons systems used by the Israelis -- including F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles and a wide array of munitions -- have been provided by Washington mostly as outright military grants.
The administration of President George W. Bush alone has provided over 21 billion dollars in U.S. security assistance over the last eight years, including 19 billion dollars in direct military aid as freebies.
"Israel's intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars," says a background briefing released Thursday by the Arms and Security Initiative of the New York-based New America Foundation.
"The Bush administration has been unwilling to use its considerable influence -- as Israel's major military and political backer -- to dissuade the government in Tel Aviv from its pattern of claiming self-defence while perpetrating collective punishment, human rights violations and undertaking massively disproportionate attacks that harm and kill civilians," Frida Berrigan, senior programme associate at the New America Foundation, told IPS.
We can only hope that these policies will change under the Obama administration.