Australian Jewish News – 6 May 2011
OSAMA bin Laden’s demise has dealt a severe blow to Islamist terrorism, achieving a measure of justice for its many global victims.
Notorious as the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks, his bloodied fingerprints stain al-Qaeda-linked terror the world over, from Bali, London, Madrid, Mumbai, Pakistan and Jakarta to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and beyond.
He waged war on thousands of innocent civilians – including many Australians, Jews and Muslims – for an ideology, Islamism, which promotes a religious duty to fight all in order to create a worldwide caliphate based on an idealised version of seventh-century Arabia.
It’s too early to assess the effect of bin Laden’s death on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, or on the ongoing fight against global Islamist terror, in which Australia plays an important role.
While those conflicts require continued long-term effort, in the short term at least, al-Qaeda’s network has suffered a severe psychological blow with the removal of its spiritual and ideological figurehead.
For the Islamists his survival was evidence of both divine favour and western weakness. His death will blunt the appeal of their “strong horse” inspiration and strengthen deterrence against international terrorism.
Further, the current agitation across the Middle East demanding democracy and reform undermines al-Qaeda’s message that all regional problems stem from the West and Israel and can only be resolved through unrestrained, unremitting violence.
Bin Laden’s death also has important ramifications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas and al-Qaeda may have differed on points of theology and tactics, yet they have always been united in their common hatred of Jews and Israel, and their commitment to violence.
While Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority praised bin Laden’s death, saying it was “good for the cause of peace worldwide”, his incumbent governmental partner, Hamas, condemned “the assassination of an Arab holy warrior”.
Israel simply cannot be expected to negotiate with a government, in which a key coalition member mourns the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist, while refusing to recognise the Jewish State.
It is astounding that so many governments and bodies are justifiably celebrating bin Laden’s demise today, while toying with the idea tomorrow of tolerating or even according legitimacy to a terrorist Hamas in a reunited Palestinian government.
Obama’s announcement of bin Laden’s death came on Yom Hashoah, a day when we honour the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and an appropriate day to mark the elimination of one of the 21st century’s most notable practitioners of another deadly totalitarian ideology.
Dr Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/lsrael & Jewish Affairs Council.