By Bret Stephens, December 2, 2008.
For purposes of self-justification, Azam Amir Kasab, the only terrorist taken
alive in last week’s Mumbai massacre, offered that the murder of Jews in the
city’s Chabad House was undertaken to avenge Israeli atrocities on
Two other terrorists cited instances of anti-Muslim Hindu violence as the
answer to the question, “Why are you doing this to us?” before mowing down
14 unarmed people at the Oberoi Hotel. And if dead terrorists could talk, we
would surely hear Abu Ghraib mentioned as among their reasons for singling
out U.S. and British hostages.
David KleinOne suspects the terrorists spent far too much time listening to the
BBC World Service.
Let’s hasten to add that by no means should the BBC alone be singled
out. When it comes to terrorists and their grievances, nearly all the Western
media have provided them with a rich diet on which to feed.
In the spring of 2005, Newsweek ran with a thinly sourced item about the
Quran being flushed down a Guantanamo toilet. Result: At least 15 people were
killed in Afghan riots.
Newsweek later retracted the story, which was the right thing to do but
also, in its way, exceptional.
Compare that to the refusal of French reporter Charles Enderlin and his station,
France 2, to retract or even express doubt about his September 2000 report on
Mohammed al-Durrah, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli
soldiers during an exchange of gunfire in the Gaza Strip — an exchange Mr.
Enderlin did not witness.
In an exhaustive piece in the June 2003 issue of the Atlantic, James Fallows
observed that the evidence that the boy could not have been shot by an Israeli
bullet is overwhelming, while the evidence that the entire incident was staged
is, at the very least, impressive. In France, the story has been the subject of
various lawsuits. In Israel, however, and throughout the Muslim world, Durrah
became the poster child for a five-year intifada that took several thousand lives.
Maybe Durrah was somewhere in the minds of the Mumbai killers. If not, there
was no shortage of other Israeli “atrocities” for them to choose from, mostly
fictitious or trumped up and all endlessly cited in Western media reports: the
“siege” of Gaza; the 2002 Jenin “massacre”; the 1982 massacres (by Lebanese
Phalangists) in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut; the execution of
Egyptian POWs in 1967.
All these fables have real-world consequences, and not only for Israelis. In July
2006, an American named Naveed Afzal Haq ambled into the offices of the
Seattle Jewish Federation and shot six people, killing one. One of the survivors
testified that Mr. Haq “stated that he was a Muslim, this was his personal
statement against Jews and the Bush administration for giving money to Jews,
and for us Jews for giving money to Israel, about Hezbollah, the war in Iraq.”
Wherever did he get those ideas?